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Pumpkin Butter

Is pumpkin still “in”? Yes? No? Anyone?

According to Trader Joe’s it’s looooong gone baby and won’t be back until next year. Lucky for me, I have a Gristedes across the street and was able to snag a huge can. Phew. Yes, pumpkin might be more of a fall flavor than a winter one (HOW IS IT DECEMBER ALREADY?!) but I still love it, and will use any excuse (it’s cold out?) to make pumpkin treats.

I don’t know what inspired my sudden need to make pumpkin butter, but I’ve been seeing a lot of bloggers posting about different variations – apple and pumpkin namely – so I decided to take a stab. The good news is, it’s really easy. The better new is that it’s DELICIOUS. It’s a pumpkin dessert in a jar. I plan slathering this stuff on muffins, bread, pancakes and (most importantly) adding it into my oatmeal. This morning I added a tablespoon into my bowl of steel-cut oats and it was a hit. What’s not to love about pumpkin anything?!

What You Need (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (29 oz — large can!)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 C sugar (I cut back on the sugar from her original recipe as I didn’t want it super sweet.)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Juice of half a lemon

What To Do:

  • Combine everything but the lemon in a large saucepan and stir well.
  • Bring everything to a boil, cover (leave lid ajar), lower heat, and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • After 45 minutes, taste, and adjust spices to taste.
  • Remove from heat, add lemon, stir and let cool.
  • Pour into mason jar/old jam jar and keep refrigerated between uses.

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Mom’s 16 Bean Soup

I can’t take credit for this one. It’s 100% my ole’ Mom’s creation. She made it last week when I was home, and I ate it for (no joke) three meals in a row. It’s completely vegan, but you wouldn’t know it. It tastes like there are gobs of butter and oil in it. Really rich and hearty and (per usual) VERY easy to whip up.

What You Need:

One bag of Goya 16 Bean Mix (not entirely sure where to find this in NY/the States. I stocked up while I was home. I know Whole Foods sells something similar in the bulk section, but for reference, the bag looks like this.) Soak the beans overnight.

2 large carrots diced

3 stalks of celery diced

1 medium yellow onion diced

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cubed and soaked in bowl of water

8 cups veg (or chicken) bouillon plus 1 cup on reserve

Olive Oil

1 tbsp oregano

Two cloves garlic minced or grated

What You Do:

In a large pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and sautee the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add oregano.

Add the beans (already soaked overnight), into the pot as well as the 8 cups of bouillon. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour. After the hour, add the sweet potato pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste, re-cover and continue simmering for an additional hour. At this point, make sure the sweet potatoes are cooked (easy to pierce with a fork), and you’re done!

A Word on Smoothies

I’ll keep this short and sweet because really, smoothies aren’t TOO hard to mess up. Liquid + frozen fruit + blend, done. But I did want to share some tips and things I’ve found yield the tastiest of frozen concoctions.

My secret ingredient? Raw spinach. Best part about it? You can’t even taste it! I swear. Blends completely into the smoothie and you get all the awesome health benefits (Fiber, protein, vitamin C, etc) without having to really eat it. Win win.

When making my smoothies here are the basic steps I follow:

  • Start with non dairy base – I always go for almond milk (Almond Breeze – Original flavor)
  • Next, handful of washed baby spinach  – see above
  • I always add a banana (frozen preferred, but room temp works too) into my smoothie. Makes it thick and creamy
  • I also usually add in flax seed — around a tablespoon or so. Again, you can’t taste it!
  • Next – FROZEN FRUIT. Frozen is key! It eliminates the need for ice cubes (which honestly just melt and make your smoothie taste watery) but still adds the frozen bits and thickness that makes smoothies, well….smoothies! Strawberries, blueberries, mango, raspberries – any combination will work.
  • Finally, the sweetener – sometimes I skip the sweetener completely if I’m using sweet fruit, but if my blend needs it, I’ll add in Stevia, agave or lately, honey.

The smoothie pictured here was made with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 banana, 1 cup raw washed spinach, 1 tbsp flax, 2 cups almond milk and honey to taste.


Savory Breakfast Oats

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I’m addicted to oatmeal. I’ve addressed this before on this here blog, but like, guys – I don’t know what my morning, no, DAY would be like without them. They’ve had a consistent presence in my life for the past 26 years. If that isn’t dedication, I just don’t know what is.

While I enjoy them in many forms (overnight, peanut butter, bananas, etc) I’ve never really understood the whole savory oats thing. Salt? In OATMEAL? Gasp. So, as you can imagine, I surprised myself by falling really, deeply, truly in love with this rendition of savory oats, inspired by an article in this month’s Women’s Health Magazine (trust me, I didn’t concoct this one entirely on my own. Oats are meant to be SWEET, people!) Blame it on the sunny side up eggs and swiss cheese combo, but my taste buds aren’t lying — this recipe is a keeper. Best part is it takes five (yes, five) minutes to make and requires only a handful of ingredients — spinach, oats, eggs, slice of cheese, salt and pepper – most of which you probably already have! Perfect for a weekend brunch or in my case, a Tuesday night dinner.

What You Need:

1/2 cup rolled, old fashioned oats

1 cup of water

dash of salt for water

2 eggs

handful of chopped baby spinach

slice of swiss cheese

salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Bring the water to a boil, add the dash of salt, and pour in the oats. Lower the heat to medium, and let cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the oats are cooking, spray a pan with cooking spray and make your sunny side up eggs! Once the oats are done, stir in the spinach, swiss cheese, top with the two eggs and season with salt and pepper. DONE!

 

Avocado Fries

I’m not big into fried foods. I don’t eat meat, so there goes the fried chicken and everything else I’d just rather have….unfried? But these. THESE. I think the fact that they’re made from avocado – one of the major loves of my life –  makes up for the fact that they have been deep-fried in a vat of oil. It cancels out, or something.

Anyway.

I can’t take the credit for these — my friend Aviva found the recipe online, and when she and Emma came over for dinner last night, we gave them a shot along with a totally delicious sweet potato + fig lasagna. (Jealous?)

Warning: DO NOT fry these in a wok! It gets WAY too hot! We learned the hard way, and by “hard way” I mean “started a mini fire in my kitchen when the boiling oil splashed all over the kitchen wall, floor, computer, body, iPhone and everything else within a five foot radius causing the three us to run from the kitchen shrieking “. Definitely use a dish a little more shallow. Trust me on this one.

We paired these with our favorite hot sauce, and, oil burns aside**, they came out great!

Quick Note: the batter for these contains egg. You could definitely make these vegan by frying them in something like this.

** See exhibit C.

Young Coconuts

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Young thai coconuts, how do I love thee? I could write a novel. Instead, I’ll keep it to a short blog post, cool? Cool.

I first got hooked on fresh coconut water at Bonobos, the raw, vegetarian food joint in New York. I had never tasted anything so completely delicious in my entire LIFE. Now, coconut water is everywhere — Zico, VitaCoco….but, honestly? I’m not a fan. It tastes like salty cardboard (not that I’ve ever tasted cardboard butttt….) and nothing at all like real coconut water!

Anyway. Nothing does it for me like the real water, poured straight from a young coconut. I can usually depend on Organic Avenue, Liquiteria, Pure Food and Wine, Juice Generation or Bonobos for fresh, (albeit really, really expensive) coconut water and again, it tastes nothing like the stuff from the shelf. Promise.

Because I don’t love spending $9 on a 16oz bottle of the stuff, I’ve been getting my fix recently by buying the coconuts (you can find them at Whole Foods and some health food stores), slicing them at home, and enjoying a tall glass all for about 4 bucks (tip: keep the coconut in the fridge before slicing….that way it’ll be nice and cold when you’re ready to drink.)

Here we are cutting one open this morning. Note, you’ll definitely need a huge chef’s knife and someone strong to give it a few good whacks. I definitely would have sliced my hand off had I done this on my own (thanks, Bri!) After we drank the water from it, we scooped out the meat with a spoon and snacked on that. The BEST start to a Sunday morning.


Delicata Squash with Fresh Herbs

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I love squash. One of my favorite (see: only) things about Winter is the abundance of different kinds of squash — acorn, butternut, spaghetti and….delicata?! I got two of these in my CSA share from last week and had NO idea what to do with them. I had never even SEEN them before. They looked like something you would decorate a Thanksgiving table with. Eat? I wasn’t too sure.

I decided to slice it, (skin on), coat in olive oil, salt and pepper and add on chopped sage and rosemary (picked fresh from my window garden!) I roasted it for about 45 minutes and the results were amazing. Buttery, sweet, filled with flavor, this is absolutely going to be my new squash of choice. If you haven’t already tried it, I encourage you go to get some and roast it up immediately.

What You Need

Two small delicata squash

two tablespoons chopped fresh herbs – I used rosemary and sage

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Pre-heat oven to 375. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the center of each half. Once everything is scooped out, slice each half width-wise into 1 inch pieces. Drizzle olive oil on the squash, making sure each piece is covered and spread the pieces out on a baking sheet (first spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking!) Sprinkle chopped herbs, salt, and pepper on the squash, pop in the oven, and let roast for about 45 minutes. You’ll know the squash is done when you can easily poke with a knife. I would also recommend removing the baking sheet halfway through the baking time, giving it a good shake to loosen up any pieces that might have gotten stuck to the baking sheet, and then placing it back in the oven to finish roasting.

That’s all there is too it! Delicata squash. Do it. Now.